Monday, December 15, 2014

What am I doing with my life?


God has given me so much. I have a wonderful husband...a beautiful house...many many loving children...my health...a strong mind and body, and "work from home" job. We are very busy trying to keep our business running smoothly and with all the little ones running around (one being autistic) you could safely say that we are busy people. I am certainly leading a very fulfilling life...but...for some reason, for the past couple months, I have felt a stirring in my soul. Its almost as if an audible voice keeps saying to me....

"What are you doing with your life? Are you doing enough?"

On a corner not far from my house there is a building that has gone through many transitions over the past, almost, two years that I have lived in this neighborhood. The last business that occupied this little building was a chiropractic office. There must not have been enough business in this corner of town because it quickly disappeared, and in its place came this.....

Not long after they moved into this cute little building did I start hearing that voice inside my head and heart...

"What are you doing with your life?"

I just cant ignore this stirring that I feel in my soul and so it got me thinking. There is a reason I have been through all this heartache and trial. Life is so complicated and so often we get frustrated because it seems the trials never end and just as you start to see a calming trend in your life another ball drops and your forced into hardship again....at least that's been my life's trend.

About three weeks ago, coming home from the grocery store, I passed this Pregnancy Center again. I had passed it many times before but ignored that voice in my head. "What are you doing with your life." I would tell myself I was to busy but that maybe SOMEDAY I would take the time to go in.  I'm not sure what was different this day. I barely even remember having any thoughts of going into the building...I just know that I turned into the parking lot, got out of my car, and walked into the building.  I had actually visited this kind of center when I fell pregnant at 18. I remember being so scared. The staff (back in 1995) was so kind to me and welcoming. I remember leaving feeling, still scared, but not alone. So three weeks ago walking into this center brought back a lot of memories.

As I walked into the building there was a small waiting room. It was clean and it smelled good. Off to the right side were little pamphlets on abortion and birth control. There were only two people, a man and a woman, sitting in the waiting room and I wondered what their story was. One elderly sweet looking lady was behind the desk greeting me with a very sweet smile.

"Hello dear," she said to me. "Can I help you with something?"

I had no idea what I was going to say to her. I didn't have a plan, I only knew that there was some reason I was supposed to be here.

"Well," I answered, "I'm not really sure what It is I'm looking for but I'm a birth mom and I am wondering if there was any way I could help out around here."

She smiled and pulled out a Volunteer Application. She told me to look it over and fill it out and bring it back. I took the paper from her, thanked her and went to my car.

Sitting in my car I was able to look at the application more closely. It didn't say "Pregnancy Center," on it, instead it said "Life Network." I thought that was incredible. I had just finished reading a fantastic book written by Abby Johnson titled "Unplanned." It was a story about a young girl who started volunteering at Planned Parenthood and eventually was hired on and became the director of one of the clinics. She worked there for many years until she realized how horrible abortion was and converted to pro-life beliefs, and now does work for the Life Network. It was a wonderful story, and beautifully written. Ironically, and maybe not that surprising given the battle between pro-life and pro-choice, there is a Planned Parenthood not even a block from the Pregnancy Center where I picked up this application.
 What is God doing? I really don't know. All I know is that He has put a stirring in my heart to want more out of life. I want to take all those experiences I have and use them for Gods glory. I want to help other people who have been in my shoes are put in that position to choose between abortion or adoption. These are life and death decisions and It breaks my heart that there are those out there that are struggling with it.

I don't know what God has in store for me on this venture but I'm going to trust that He knows more than me. My only prayer is "Use me God!" And my heart is for being used anywhere, even if its just to file papers or clean toilets. I am available.







Thursday, November 6, 2014

Speaking from my heart!


When I was a little girl we spent a lot of time outside. There were no video games or cable TV. We entertained ourselves with bicycles, bugs, dirt, and games of tag and hop scotch. I remember many times being outside and seeing a dust devil and chasing it in hopes of being able to get inside of it and see how it felt. I was actually successful a couple times. They never lasted long, but when I was inside of them I could feel the wind whirling around me and the little dust pellets hitting my cheeks. The whirling and twisting wind felt funny as it pulled my clothes and then it was gone just as quickly as it came.

If I could describe my life in one word it would be "whirlwind." Whirlwinds are winding, twisty, fast, unpredictable, dirty and sometimes destructive. Because of the "nature" of my life, I think I have become accustom to the constant and unpredictable changes that have occurred throughout my years and I'm feeling unsettled. The only way I can describe the way I feel is for you to imagine yourself in an empty room surrounded by windows. Outside the windows is a HUGE meadow filled with all kinds of wild flowers just calling out for someone to run through them. Your standing in the middle of this room surrounded by windows and no door. You so badly want to get out of the room and run through this beautiful meadow but you cant because there is no way out. The windows represent my fear of what "might" happen in the future despite the fact that my present is secure. I can not allow myself to be fully happy because I am not sure if what I have right now will last.

In 2010 I started a journey...a personal journey to get healthy inside and out. I had a lot of weight to loose and I had a lot of emotional baggage to sort through. I have lost 130 pounds and I have about 39 pounds left to loose but my emotional journey is not over. I LONG to be healthy on the inside and I cant wait for the day that I will be able to let myself be free to be completely happy, and run through that "beautiful meadow" with my shoes off and my face to the wind. Fortunately, I have my faith in God keeping me grounded. When I reach an emotional low I listen to this song and this song over and over again. They calm me.

Lately I feel like the relationships in my life need some attention. For so long I have focused only on the things in front of me (usually those things have been pure chaos), and not enough on the relationships that matter the most. My relationship with my husband is strong and I am so grateful for that. I pray every day that the Lord blesses me this time with a LONG and lasting marriage...I love him so much and I don't want to loose him. My relationships with my children are the ones I feel have suffered. When you are a single mom with so many small children you go into survival mode. I made sure they were fed, and clothed, and went to school. I made sure I hugged and kissed them before bed and then I would take my weary emotionally tired body and sleep, only to do it all again the next day. I don't feel like I nurtured my children emotionally and many nights I would go to bed feeling so guilty and asking myself.....Did I hug them enough? Did I talk to them enough? Did I love them enough? I had so much guilt.

Now my kids are older. My oldest is 18 and my youngest (my sweet birth son, Tyrus) is five. I am trying so hard to make up for lost time even with sweet Tyrus. As many know I gave him up for adoption five years ago. I remember before he was born I vowed to myself that I would write him one letter a month for his first year of life and then after that I would write at least one letter every six months or so. I have literally FAILED at communicating very much with him. I really do beat myself up over it. How could I fail at such a simple task? If it wasn't for Tyrus's mother Rebekah, I don't know how much we would talk. She lets him call me and no matter how busy I think I am with the other four kids I have at home I always make sure to answer his phone calls. He is always so happy to talk to me.

In an effort to improve the relationships in my life I have tried very hard to make more phone calls and send more letters. I pat myself on the back for calling my grandma(lovingly called Nana) on her birthday last week. This was unusual for me and I was proud of myself for putting forth the effort to nurture my relationship with her.

About a month ago I made a video (you can watch it here) for Tyrus telling him that I was going to send him some seeds from my pumpkin patch so he could grow his own pumpkin patch from MY pumpkin patch next year. He was THRILLED to get this message from me. I thought it would be a great way to link my life with his in an unusual way. I went a little crazy though and decided to dry seeds from all my favorite foods and send them to him. I was so proud of myself for pulling this off. Two days ago I sent him his seeds. Here are some pictures of what I sent him.
 I made sure to write a special letter.
I turned 39 on October 19th. My goals this year are to get down to my goal weight of 150 (I have 39.2 pounds left, you can follow my weight loss journey here,) to get healthy inside so that I don't live in fear of what the future holds, and to nurture these relationships that I feel I have left behind. I believe we were created to have relationships...the things of this world will pass away some day but the people we love are lasting.









Thursday, October 30, 2014

Its time to prepare to say good bye to your brother: An article on adoption...



 As many of you know I am writing articles for an adoption agency relating to birth mother topics and adoption. Here is my latest article: 

Title: How to tell your children that you are giving or have given one of their siblings up for adoption.

Hello my name is Rebekah. I'm a 39-year-old birth mom to a five-year-old little boy named Tyrus.
When I became pregnant with my birth son, it wasn't until I was in the ninth week of pregnancy that I fully decided upon adoption. He was not my first child; in fact he was my fifth child. I had already gone through all the emotions involved in actually deciding to give my baby up for adoption, my challenge came in a different form, and that was telling my other four children that I had chosen to relinquish their brother, to adoption. At the time they were ages three, nine, twelve and fourteen. They knew I was pregnant, they knew that what was inside of my belly was a baby and, they knew the baby inside my belly was there brother. I knew this was not going to be something I could handle alone.

The plans went into action. I collaborated with my children's therapist, her name was Karen.  They loved her and they trusted her and I knew she would be able to help me.

Karen and I decided to wait a few weeks and then we would schedule a therapy appointment that included me and all the children with Karen. I was not looking forward to telling the children, they enjoyed watching my belly grow, and they would put their hands on my growing belly and feel the baby moving and kicking.
I tried to prepare myself as best as I could but when the day finally came and we walked into the room, sat down, and told the children that I had something very important to tell them. I couldn't stop the tears, they came before my words could. I managed to somehow get the words out and tell them that we couldn't keep the baby. I told them that I had picked out a different family for their brother, and they would have to prepare themselves to say goodbye.
The children looked stunned, confused, and a little bit like they didn't know what I was talking about. Three of the children seem to understand after discussing the subject more, but the second to the oldest one had not stopped crying since the words came out of my mouth. She was devastated and I didn't know how to comfort her. We left the therapy appointment that day sad. I expected that, now my job was to help them process the emotions of the up and coming events.

Fast forward five years.

I wanted to write this article because it has been five years since I relinquished my baby to adoption. My Birth son is five years old now and my other children are five years older as well. What I have noticed was that the effects of the adoption were lingering, and my children, although seemingly well-prepared, had to deal with the emotions of giving their brother up for adoption for years. It would break my heart every time they brought up the subject, and I knew I couldn't change anything I just had to let them grieve and process through their feelings. It took time but I can honestly say that my kids have accepted the situation. The most meaningful moment I've had in a long time came when my oldest daughter, now 18, and I were having a conversation about my Birth son. Even though I've told her hundred times, I told her again that I was sorry, sorry that I gave away her brother. She looked at me and the words that came out of her mouth caused me to cry on the spot. She said "mom, I believe everything happens for reason, and I believe Tyrus is with the family he is supposed to be with." I knew in that moment that she had grown to accept the pain of the past, and she was right, things do happen for a reason and Tyrus fits so perfectly inside of his family.

Life always throws curve balls, and none of us are immune to it. My daughter’s words that day told me that life goes on, people heal, and there's nothing we can't get through as humans because we are strong.

Monday, October 20, 2014

My birthday tattoo and what it represents!



Having children after placing a child for adoption...




Five years ago, as most of you know,  I made the very hard but responsible choice to give my fifth baby up for adoption, leaving me with just the four children I had chosen to parent. Going through the adoption process left me in a whirlwind of emotions as a mom. On one hand I felt like I made the best choice I could for my newborn because instead of living a life in daycare and full of custody disputes I had given him a chance at wholeness.  On the other hand I didn’t know where that left me as a mom.  What If I got remarried? What if my new husband wanted to have more kids? Did I deserve to have more kids? After all I just gave one away right? 

I chose not to date for a period of time after I had my birth son. I felt I needed time to heal and process all the events of the last nine months.  For about two years I just spent time with my kids and allowed my heart to settle. That’s when I met my husband. I didn’t expect to meet someone so soon but it happened and he fit so well into my life that I fell in love with him. 

We had such a special relationship. I loved him so much but I was having a very difficult time with the fact that he had three kids and they were very young. There was a battle going on in my head. I didn’t know if I was worthy or even allowed to have more kids. Wasn’t there some kind of written rule that someone who gave their child up for adoption shouldn’t have more? I was so confused and scared. There was no rule book or instruction book on this subject. How was I going to figure this out? I didn’t want to lose him…he was my answer to prayer. 

We dated for several months and our kids loved each other and our our love grew as well. The more time we spent together the more I started to become more comfortable with the growing feeling that I was about to be a new mom to three more kids, but I kept asking myself “Is this OK?...Am I allowed to be doing this?”

I think every birth mom will face the situation I was in. I am so glad that during this time I had a good support team to help me though this difficult emotional challenge I had in front of me. In my mind I just didn’t feel worthy to be parenting any more kids since I chose not to parent my son.  What I discovered after much prayer and council was that I was worthy. I was capable and I was allowed to have more kids. I discovered that there are moments in our lives that we have to make hard decisions, but that those moments do not define our future. 

Today I am happily married to a wonderful man. I do have eight kids….seven I parent….one I do not…but that is OK because I am just in another “moment” in my life. Things change, people grow, life evolves.

Friday, October 17, 2014

After writing my story......


After my birth son was born and I was starting to just get re-adjusted to my new "normal," I started thinking about what I had just been through. The tragedy of the situation was all over my life physically and emotionally. It was literally a process to just get through each day and start feeling normal again.

The good news is I did start to feel normal again. As the years passed I was able to loose a lot of weight, get a job, and feel human again. Today I feel like my life is steady. I longed for steady for so many years and even though I know that can change at the drop of a dime...it feels good to say that I am happy.

Five years have come and gone since my sweet birth son was born. Ive continued to blog on and off over these years, mostly about my children I have chosen to parent, but a little about the adoption. It hasn't been until recently when I told my complete adoption story here , that I started to realize that I did have a voice. It was apparent that my story was important to share and that someone could benefit from all my sadness and then of course from the beauty of it as well.

About a week ago I received a random email from a man from an adoption agency. The email basically asked if I wanted to collaborate with other birth moms writing articles on different subjects involved with adoption and being a birth mother. These articles would be posted on the agencies blog as well as other adoption related blogs.  I had received a few of these requests before and although I was eager to partner up with other birth moms to do this I never received an answer from these other agencies and nothing came from it. Thinking that this would be the same situation as before I sent a quick email to this gentleman telling him that I would be happy to be involved in such a wonderful cause. Again, I didn't expect to hear from him.....but I did. The same day he sent me a list of subjects to write about and asked me to pick one and submit it.

There were only a few rules that he explained to me in the email. He said that the article had to be on one of the subjects he sent to me and it had to be 400 words or more. That sounded reasonable so I picked a subject and set out writing. This was going to be fun. I was so excited to be part of something that might help out another sweet birth-mother to be.

The article I chose to write was titled: Why open adoption is better for everyone involved. And here is what I wrote.


Hello! My name is Rebekah. I am 39 years old and I am a mom to five wonderful children. Four of those children I chose to parent, and my fifth child I chose not to parent. My birth son is now five years old so I write this article with quite a bit of perspective on the subject of open adoption.

In my ninth week of pregnancy I started to consider adoption. It was such a foreign word to me and I didn’t know much about it. I did know that I had questions that had to be answered before I was to fully commit to placing my sweet baby up for adoption. One of the questions that had to be answered was, “Would my baby have any emotional damage in later years if I put him up for adoption?” I was very concerned about how he would feel about his life and the choices I was about to make for him.

So I set out to answer this question.



The first thing I did was look up the definition of adoption. That should help right?



According to Wikipedia.org, the definition of adoption is as follows: Adoption is a process whereby a person assumes the parenting of another, usually a child, from that person’s biological or legal parent or parents, and, In doing, permanently transfers all rights and responsibilities, along with filiation, from the biological parent or parents. 



Sigh!!



 That’s not what I was looking for. I needed something more personal…I needed to talk to someone who had been adopted. You can always read books and articles but I wanted to know exactly what was going to happen to my baby if I gave him up for adoption. What was he going to feel when he was fifteen or twenty or thirty? What damage will I cause to him by doing this if any at all. So I scowered the internet looking for anyone who was adopted who would talk to me.  I found what I was looking for. 



I spoke to several people who had been adopted…and I got the same answer from all of them. It usually went something like this. “Ive actually had a great life. My adoptive parents were always kind to me and I had a wonderful childhood….but….Im sad that I don’t know where I came from.”



A bell went off in my head. These people did NOT have bad lives…in fact they had very fulfilling lives but there was one thing that was missing…ROOTS!! Everyone wants to know where they came from. The sadness that these people were describing to me was something I could solve for my son if I gave him up for adoption. If…I went with adoption it would have to be open…very open. I didn’t want him to ever wonder where he came from. So when the time came to make my decision it was easy. I had my proof, and open adoption was my choice and I am so glad I did. My birth son is five years old now and we have a wonderful open relationship. He asks me questions (yes at five years old he is very inquisitive) and I am able to answer them honestly. My son will grow up never wondering where he came from. I hope as the years pass I am able to continue this open relationship with my birth son and his family.



Open adoption has helped me in more ways than one. I have four other children ages 8-18. One of the hardest things I have ever had to do was to tell my children they were going to have to say good-bye to their brother. Open adoption gave them the opportunity to always stay in contact with their youngest brother despite the fact that he was part of another loving family.



 My son will grow up never wondering where he came from. I thank God for open adoption.



Thank you for reading,

Rebekah Bancroft

http://wheredoibegain.blogspot.com/

You can find the published article here

I attached it in a word document and emailed it over. I hoped they would like it. I really don't see myself as a good writer. I write from my heart and that's all I can offer really. 

The same day I received an email from the agency saying that they LOVED the article and asked where they could submit the payment? PAYMENT? I didn't know there was payment involved. I was so excited. Not only was I getting the pleasure of using my voice and my story to help other people but I was getting paid to do it. What a dream. 

Two days later they emailed me back and said they would like me to write another article. There are no words that explain how honored I am to be able to do this. I hope that someone, somewhere, read my story and finds hope and encouragement.

 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Part 7: Birth day...saying goodbye and a video of pictures!




The weeks that followed were hard for me physically. I had gained so much weight. By the time I hit week 38 I was weighing in at about 319 pounds. With all this extra, very unhealthy, weight came high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia. These conditions were not good for me or the baby. 

In one of my many conversations that week with Rebekah I told her that it was possible that on my next doctors appointment they would send me to the hospital for an induction. I wanted her and Ben to be prepared. It was really important to me for them to be there. 

Emotionally I was spent. The anxiety of the situation was more than I can handle. I am pretty sure that is why I gained so much weight and why my blood pressure spiked so high. I felt so bad for my kids. They were really upset about the whole situation. I knew what I was putting them through was horrible. How could I possibly make them say goodbye to their brother. They had watched him grow in my belly. They had felt him move and they had seen the pictures from the ultrasound. They knew he was real. I was so heartbroken for them…and for me.

 I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle the birth emotionally. I didn’t even know how I was going to handle giving him away. There were so many unknowns. Because of this I decided it was probably best to send my big kids to their dads house in Arizona for the summer and then I would be able to handle their emotions when they got back. I was barely hanging on. 

Just as predicted my doctors appointment came and my blood pressure was dangerously high. I was sent immediately to the hospital. On the way there I made the all important call to Rebekah and Ben that went something like this:


“Rebekah, you need to drive all night long. The baby is coming tomorrow.”

I can only imagine how hard that was for them. I believe they were in Texas visiting family and friends. The drive would be long and hard but I'm sure very worth it. 

Birth day!!

Almost all my family was there with me. I was so grateful. I didn’t want to be alone. I had no intentions of having a painful birth, the situation itself was painful enough, so I opted for an epidural as soon as they would allow me to. This also allowed for a very peaceful time for everyone to visit and talk. We very much enjoyed ourselves. Rebekah and Ben arrived around ten in the morning looking very tired. I knew they had driven all night long but I cried when Rebekah walked in the door. I wanted her to hold my hand. We had become very close. 

Hour after hour went by and the baby still had not come. At one point, because of my weight, my epidural came out from the shifting of my body. The contraction pain made me so sad and I cried. Graciously, the placed another one for me and I was comfortable again. 

Lunch time had come and gone and I knew everyone was hungry. I of course was not allowed to eat so I told everyone that I thought it was probably safe to go and eat. I was only about six centimeters and I sure we had several hours of waiting left. Rebekah and Ben agreed and left to go to the cafeteria to get some drinks and food. 

I laid there on my very uncomfortable bed and tried to relax. That did not last long. I started to feel some very uncomfortable pressure and had to call for the nurse. She came in and checked me and I had unexpectedly gone from 6 centimeters to 10 in less than one hour. 

“Everyone is gone.” I said to the nurse. “Can you please go find them.”

That part makes me laugh. I was certain everyone was going to miss it. Isn't that just the typical story??

Fortunately, my wonderful nurse was able to track Rebekah and Ben down. They ran into the room looking just as surprised as we all were. 

It was time to push!!

I have pushed out five babies in my lifetime…and none of them took longer than 30 minutes to show there sweet faces. Tyrus was no different. He came out in less than 20 minutes and cried loud and strong. The room was filled with joy and tears and amazement. He looked pale to me at first but he pinked up quickly. His hair was jet black and looked long and curly (later we would find out it was straight as a board and stood up like a Mohawk.) His eyes were dark…so dark they looked black.

They set him on my stomach. I looked at Rebekah and told her she could hold him first…she said to me “Rebekah, you need to hold him first. I have a lifetime with him.” It was a gift to me to get to hold him first, to get to look at him and touch him and check him out. He was beautiful!!!
When I felt comfortable, they took him and weighed him, and wrapped him in a hospital blanket. Everyone took turns holding him and marveling at how perfect he was. 

We spent 24 hours in the hospital. I let Ben and Rebekah have all the firsts. I wanted them to change his diaper first, dress him first, and have their first night with him. They had a room right beside mine. I could hear every time he cried and every time they got up to comfort him. I had four other children and I had experienced a lot of firsts in my life…this was their time and I enjoyed watching.

Leaving the hospital was harder than I imagined. I had just signed my parental rights away and now I had to walk out of the hospital alone. It was so weird to not have a baby with me, even though I just had one. I just kept telling myself as I got into the car…”you just have to get home…then you will be OK.” But it was not OK. Nothing was OK. I was not prepared for the emotional breakdown I would have for the next three days. I was very grateful I had decided to send away the kids for the summer. I could not handle my emotions and theirs too. The crying I did for the next three days was not the kind of crying I  had ever done before. It felt like someone was ripping my heart out. I cried and cried until I literally didn’t have tears coming out of my eyes any more. My mom was very worried about me. She wanted to help but there was literally nothing she could do for me. I told her “mom, I think I just have to be sad for awhile.”  Im sure it broke her heart to see her daughter in so much pain. 

Life didn’t seem the same. I felt like there was a piece of me missing. I didn’t know what to do.
Rebekah and Ben spent as much time as they could with me while they waited the three or four days required by law before they left the state with their new bundle of joy. I enjoyed the little time we had together. They were really enjoying parenting. A few times Rebekah asked me “Are you sure? Are you sure you want to give him to us?”  She was always thinking of me. I would always answer her with a “Yes, Im sure.” I knew I had made the right decision…but sometimes we have to make decisions that are not very easy and sometimes they are very painful. 

Saying good bye was bittersweet. Rebekah said to me on the day she left “I feel so bad…it’s the happiest day of our lives, but it’s the saddest day of yours.” We hugged, and cried, and said our good byes and then….they were gone. 

I was left with an empty home. A body that was still recovering from just having a baby, and no baby to hold. I became very angry. I was so angry at Ron. He caused all this unhappiness and I was the one who carried the brunt of it. 

I had not spoke to Ron since the day I asked him to sign the papers. He knew the baby was born (I cant remember who told him) and he requested to see the baby before Rebekah and Ben left town. I was so angry that he got to see the baby. I know that sounds horrible but I just didn’t feel like he deserved to. Looking back now I am glad that he did get to hold Tyrus. No matter how horrible of a person I thought he was, Tyrus will have pictures of his birth dad holding him. That’s all that matters and Im glad now that Rebekah and Ben decided to meet with Ron before they left. 

Several months after the birth I was driving down the road listening to music with my windows down and I heard my name being called. I turned the music down and looked to my right. In a big black tow truck sat Ron looking at me. I cringed at the sight of him. He only said one sentence to me…he said,

“The baby is beautiful.”

I looked at him and I responded,

“I know,”

And I drove off hoping to never see him again…and five years later I haven’t. 

It took a long time for my heart to mend, but the good news is that God has restored my life. I dont always make decisions that are good for me but God seems to always pick me up and put me back in a safe place. There is a song that I used to listen to over and over again...its by Ray Boltz and its called "The anchor holds." The chorus goes like this:

The anchor holds
Though the ship is battered
The anchor holds
Though the sails are torn
I have fallen on my knees
as I face the raging sees
But the anchor holds
In spite of the storm

God has always been my "anchor," my steady guide through life.

Thank you for reading my story. Please enjoy this picture video Ive put together.
I title it “My adoption story in pictures!”
 
God bless!!!